Last week in Paris before Asia Tour~

The Paris Opera Ballet is leaving for Singapore this coming Monday. I have been waiting for this Asia Tour for a long time. During the last tour to Japan with the Opera, I was an understudy and didn’t get to perform in Tokyo. However, this time I will be performing in Rudolf Nureyev’s Swan Lake, Forsythe’s Blake Works I, and Crystal Pite’s Seasons Canon, in Singapore and in Shanghai.

In Singapore, we will do a contemporary program with Forsythe, Robbins and Pite, from 21st to 23rd June at the Esplanade Theatre.
In Shanghai, we will perform Swan Lake from 29th June to 1st July and the contemporary program on 4th and 5th July at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

I have never been to these two cities. Nevertheless, from the trilogy Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan gave me insight into the city of Singapore. It appears to be a very orderly small country with a lot to discover. Also, I have been hearing so much about how Shanghai and the rest of China have developed rapidly since the past few years. Naturally, I am every excited to see it with my own eyes.

The Paris Opera is partnering with Le Coq Sportif for this Asia Tour. Apparently, Le Coq Sportif is one of the French pioneers in sportswear. So for the tour, received the an outfit like this, which I am not too fan of… It is for me a very sporty look for the Paris Opera, very much the image of the French national team in the Olympics… Anyway, thank you Le Coq Sportif for supplying our practice clothing.

Now that the degree course is over, I have much more free time and I am not quite used to this extra time yet. On Thursday evening, there was another Marco Polo Club (Cathay Pacific frequent flyers’s Club) event at Musée Maillol at the left bank of Paris. Even though I am not at all a “frequent” Cathay flyer, the director kindly invited me to the reception. We were offered a visit of the temporary exhibition at the museum, showing a part of Emil Bührle‘s painting collection. It was my first exhibition since such a long time and I enjoyed the visit very much, it is indeed a great collection.

At the end of the visit, we were received at the cafe of the museum. What a surprise, the modern chic decorated cafe was full of charm. At first, I was awkwardly sitting at a corner alone, observing, as usual, with a glass of freshly pressed orange juice. But very soon, I started chatting with other people over nice food and drinks, and enjoyed the evening very much.

In these events, we meet different new people. Talking to strangers can always be a challenge at first, especially for me. But if we accept to open ourselves and take the first step to show our interest in others, we let Life to bring us these wonderful encounters. Sometimes, we even meet people with whom we’ll keep a lasting relationship.

Café Prévert of Musée Maillol

My latest performance in Speak for Yourself……

Here’s a private Youtube video (only visible in this blog), of an extract from a dress rehearsal of Speak for Yourself, in which I recently performed.

Exams at GEM are over, what’s next?

To prepare for a ballet performance, apart from the daily training, we rehearse the ballet for a month or two, then we go on stage and perform in generally 5 to 24 shows. Whereas writing a business course report, you’d work on the same subject for a year or two, you write a 50-pages report, present your work with the help of a powerpoint, and in a day‘s time, all of a sudden, your work is handed-in, you lose the control over it, as if it doesn’t belong to you anymore. The feeling is very different.

So on 4th June 2019, I walked out of that presentation room, and finished my two-years business degree course. The results were far beyond my expectation and I felt a huge sense of satisfaction. For once, I was very proud of what I’d accomplished.

GEM welcomed me warmly. In two days we spent some very good time together. This business course gave me self-confidence. And of course I learnt tremendously.

Now what? No more studying in the weekends, no more computer during lunch breaks at the Opera. Instead of enjoying the freedom and the extra time, I am truly bored. There are two more years of e-learning to get the master degree. Should I complete it right away? Or should I focus on my dancing career instead? It is quite a complexe question.

Anyway, two years ago, I never thought I would one day be capable of doing this. Very grateful!

Looking back to the photos I took…

I arrived Grenoble on 2nd June morning, upon my arrival at the train station of Grenoble, I saw my business school GEM. The campus is right next to the train station. Last time I was here was two years ago, when the course just started.

Grenoble was still as charming as I remembered. It is a very small city but the mountains are so beautiful there, and they add such charm to the city.

That night, I treated myself with a nice dinner, before the beginning of the exams the next morning. I also met a Hong Kong girl who is a student at GEM, we chatted in the afternoon and she suggested me this French restaurant. Despite the hot weather I ordered some boeuf bourguignon, which was jolly tasty!

The next morning, I was very nervous as usual about the exams…. my first exam was commercial negotiation, at 9am. I arrived in front of the school of GEM, feeling very grateful, life brings me a large variety of experiences. This is the entrance for the students, “Étudiants”, so it was for me.

I walked into the campus, wait a minute, am I a student here? Am I part of this? It felt unreal.

This is where the first exam took place, negotiation. I was not satisfied with my “performance”. I was nervous and made stupid mistakes….. disappointing….

Then for lunch, a friend invited me to their student residence building and they cooked for me! That was another enriching encounter. We talked about being a student there, and living in Grenoble, in France… GEM…. etc.

The next morning, I worked at the office of l’Institut Sport & Management for the first time since I became an intern. Well, in fact, it was for the exam that I was going to do in the afternoon: printing out the annexe documents, finalising my powerpoint…… preparing for my oral presentation

Everything ready! Just before the exam!!!!!!!

The exam went incredibly well. In this photo, I was receiving comments from the jury (board of examiners) about my presentation. They gave flattering compliments. I was very very surprised and happy!

So there, my two years’ business bachelor course is over! Thank you so so much Claire Galland and Marie Ménager for your help and kind attention!

Grenoble – Exams at GEM

After two years of e-learning studies, here I am again, at Grenoble, for the final exams. Being back in Grenoble recalls so many memories. Last time when I was here was two years ago, when the programme started. The excitement that I had while walking into the modern and beautiful school campus was indescribable. Being a student again felt exciting and a little surprising. The and city and the school remain un changed. The mountains still add so much charm to the city.

Inside the Campus of GEM, the banner saying “Welcome to the candidates!”

Upon my arrival at the campus of Grenoble École de Management, I was warmly welcomed by the team. We talked as if we’ve always known each other, even though since two years we’ve only been communicating online. My first exam didn’t went as well as I hoped it would. Anyway, inside the school numerous candidates were having admission exams to enter into the school, they looked as nervous as I was!

Back into the classrooms! This is where my first exams took place yesterday….

Today is the day of the last and most important exam, the presentation of my report regarding my internship. Doing presentations, negotiating, analysing, talking…….. is almost as tiring as doing a performance! It is a different type of tiredness and difficulty. Life is all about exploring, curiosity and experimenting, don’t you agree?

Speaking for myself, dancing in the rain~

After a two-weeks break, we picked up the performances of Lightfoot again at Palais Garnier this weekend. My first appearance in the ballet Speak for Yourself also took place yesterday! For that, we had one extra dress rehearsal Saturday afternoon which was the second and last rehearsal on stage that I had before the proper performance…. Fortunately, it went okay which was reassuring. It was also the first time that I got to rehearse with the water. Indeed, in the last 15 minutes of this ballet, “rain” comes down the stage which creates a very beautiful scenery, and the dancers have to dance on a wet, slippery and raked floor, which is rather challenging.

A very simple costume…
Wet shoes and feet after the rehearsal…

In order to prevent the dancers from catching a cold under the rain, we were told that the water had been heated up to 70 degrees. So I was expecting warm drops of water. But no, it was surprising how cold it was! The water probably had more than enough time to cool down and when I had to roll on that wet floor, it was in fact freezing!

The D-day eventually arrived and yesterday was my turn to perform in Speak for Yourself. The nerves were there and as regular performers we constantly learn to live and work with it. Unlike in Saturday’s rehearsal, there were no major slips or mistakes. The presence of the audience naturally brings a certain pressure and we tend to perform accordingly. During the rehearsal, I could enjoy it more, trying out steps and spacing, experimenting. Whereas in the performance, the fact that I tried to impress and to do it well made the whole process less pleasurable. However, perhaps this is rather normal for a first performance, a public “Générale” (dress rehearsal) would have been much appreciated and would be a nice transition from the experimenting phase to the showing-off phase.

Right after the performance, coming out from the pool!!

Three more performances in Speak for Yourself to cherish. It is an exceptional opportunity to be doing this solo-part with an amazing cast. Spring seems to be back in Paris, finally, the flowers are blooming, the Eiffel Tower, smiling.

Another last minute trip – Colmar

It was another last minute idea, I decided to go to Colmar this week for two days. I left Paris in the morning of the Labour Day, on 1st of May. Early in the morning, the usually-busy street “Rue du Ranelagh” was empty on my way to the metro station. That image was very inspiring and I couldn’t help taking a photo of it:

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Rue du Ranelagh, 7:55am 1st May 2019

So there my trip to Colmar began….. 

Like in Strasbourg, the Alsatian houses in Colmar are very particular. They easily bring you joy and a smiling face by their different colours and exposed beams. The city first seemed very cute and relaxing to me.

The main touristic spot in Colmar is “La Petite Venise” (translated directly as “the Little Venice”). It is a 30-minutes boat ride on the canal of Colmar. Since it was a last-minute choice, I arrived Colmar knowing nothing about it! The weather was perfect, so I started my first day there with this boat ride which was enchanting!

It was also surprising to see how many tourists from all around the world were in Colmar. I never thought that it a small French city like Colmar would be such a touristic destinations! However, comparing to Deauville, the locals in Colmar seemed colder, not as friendly as in Deauville…. more or less like in Paris….

There were also incredible landmarks like the Ancienne Douane (Koïfhus) with more than 500 years of history. They are extremely well preserved and it was a pleasure to see. A lady was performing joyfully in front of it, she made the tourists (including myself) so happy. 

Ancienne Douane, Colmar

I have no idea whether gastronomy is famous in Colmar, but while walking around the city, I could see Michelin-starred restaurants everywhere, with menus starting at just 20 euros! Pretty incredible isn’t it? Unfortunately, they were very full, so I couldn’t try one for dinner. Instead, I randomly walked into a restaurant, which was not very good…

After dinner, I had a nice long walk on my own in the city when the sun was set and the sky was dark. In the dark, the city of Colmar showed a totally different charm. The walk was very very pleasant. The distance from Paris, from my daily routine and life, opened up so many space for self reflexion. At the end of the day, this is what solo trips are all about!

The second day was a rainy day, so I decided to spend some time in the museums. My favorite one was the house where the famous French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi was born. We know Bartholdi mainly for his Statue of Liberty (New York) given to the United States as a gift from France. There he is! A charming portrait of him!

Portrait of Auguste Bartholdi

Another highlight of this trip is an unexpected encounter. I walked pass the shop of the jewellery maker Dany Tonin, fascinated by her beautiful works with natural stones. Eventually we started talking, then continued talking for quite a moment. Dany is a charming and beautiful lady, so so passionate about what she does with his husband: creating different jewellery pieces. From our conversation I learnt that they have been creating artworks for more than 10 generations!!!!!! How amazing is that!? She explained that it is more and more difficult today to keep on doing that, the society leaves less and less space for artistic creation, and nowadays it is hard for them to make a living…. My respect to the passion of this couple! Here’s their website: https://latelieramoureux.com

Before leaving, Dany very kindly gave me these three stones as souvenirs. According to her, natural stones have their own vibration and depending on the type of stone, they project certain energy. Dany said that these stones will bring me good luck. I was very touched by her gesture.

Enjoying the stage~

Yesterday I did our second performance in Sleight of Hand. Once again, how myself react to each performance took me by surprise. Although the conditions are exactly the same for a dress rehearsal, a Generale and a proper performance, how I feel on stage is totally different. In a real performance, I feel much more nervous which is easy to understand…

I will have 8 more performances in Sleight of Hand until 23rd May. Since I entered the Paris Opera, this is one of the few times that I know in advance the days on which I will perform:

Technicians demounting the sets after the performance…

For Sleight of Hand: 
April: 18, 19, 20 (14h30 and 20h), 21 (14h30), 27 (20h) 
May: 11, 17, 18 (20h), 23 

For Speak for Yourself: 
Mai: 12 (14h30), 14, 18 (14h30), 20 

I feel so grateful to the choreographers Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot for believing in me and for giving me this precious opportunity. When I first met them, I was a little taken aback by how strict and precise they are, making me feel like I could never be as good as how they might want me to be.

Very soon, I discovered how passionate they are. They truly love ballet, their dancers and the pieces that they’d created. They’re also incredibly kind and warm people.

The ballet masters of Sleight of Hand Menghan (the one who speaks a little Cantonese!) and Roger already left after the Première….. They did an incredible job as well, being as precise as the choreographers and were able to adapt to every situation.

And it is such a beautiful beautiful program! The feedbacks are all very positive and people seem to enjoy it so much, which is very satisfying to know for the performers.

Okay, I have to get ready for the performances today! Weather in Paris is extremely good, so as my mood.